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Marathon Man

Featuring: Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier & Roy Scheider

Format: DVD | Rating: 18 years & over

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"Average rating (3 reviews)"

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  Yes, It's Very Safe and It's So Safe You Wouldn't Beleive It

| | See all MovieZone's reviews (88)

I have to declare that Marathon Man starts off rather slowly, and for the first thirty minutes at least, it feels as if you're watching a human drama rather than a spy thriller. However, unlike a lot of so called thrillers, Marathon Man uses this time to create and develop the characters and establish the chilling mood, which ultimately pays off later on in the film once the movie really gets up a head of steam.

The story develops around a car crash that takes place in downtown New York. One of the men in this crash is the brother of the infamous Nazi war criminal, Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier). This crash triggers off a series of events involving a graduate history student, Thomas Babe Levy ( Dustin Hoffman ) who is unwittingly caught in the middle of an international conspiracy involving stolen diamonds, also an exiled Nazi war criminal, and a rogue government agent.
Consequently, from then on, many members of a US defence organisation, known as The Division, begin turning up dead.

Doc (Roy Scheider) plays the role of Babe's (Dustin Hoffman), mysterious businessman brother, getting the rare chance to play a character, which combine both hero and villain. Doc is an intriguing guy because he chooses to work out his problems in a very different way than Babe's character does. He turns out to be a very jaded person, a spy and a cold-blooded killer. John Schlesinger, the films director, does a fantastic job of keeping the audience on the edge of their seat for the duration of the movie. A constant foreboding feel is created, and you're never truly sure of what will happen. This is exactly what you want in a thriller, as nobody likes it when they can predict what will happen next.

Babe is subjected to all sorts of harassing scenes, most notably an excruciating dental torture sequence. This scene is powerful and painful on it's own, but it is made more so by the fact that we have already become acquainted with the character and therefore we feel compassion and protection for him. That scene alone is enough to drive the movie in the realms of prominence, as it is simply one of the most powerful that cinema has ever given us, but this movie is a great more than just a torture sequence. The film ends with a spectacular sequence, which sees the movie and the two centrals characters come to a satisfying conclusion. The characters are the central theme in this movie, and had the movie ended differently it could have unravelled everything that it had created, but the movie's end is absolutely perfect and does the entire movie justice. This is a dazzling piece of cinema prominence and a thriller to compete with all thrillers.

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  brillant

| | See all wussell's reviews (8)

i read the book many years ago and could not put down,it really was a very good read,i then watched the movie and thought i would be disappointed,i was not, the bit where laurance takes his nerve out for infomation was fantastic and sickining,excellent film

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  "Is it safe?"

| | See all farnzy's reviews (164)

At times Marathon Man is an endurance test of the audience's nerves as Schlesinger skillfully manipulates the various set pieces for maximum effect.
The most famous of a spate of movies dealing with Nazi war criminals in the 70s(The Odessa File and The Boys From Brazil being the other most noted examples)Marathon Man highlights our fascination for such old age monsters. The kidnap, trial, and execution of Eichmann by Mossad fueled the publics interest mainly due to the fact that he and others like him commited such outrageous atrocities they made fictional villains almost redundant.
For those men to reach old age challenges the view of natural justice but equally makes one look at the stereotypes of senior citizens and their apparent vulnerability. Ira Levin has often dealt with the wicked in old age- especially in Rosemarys Baby and the aforementioned Boys From Brazil and personifies it in Olivier's Szell.
Szell is underestimated by Doc and this proves to be his undoing. Doc feels he has youth on his side and the audience witness his martial prowess in a violent balcony encounter in Paris(Interestingly this is witnessed by a man of advanced years who is ignored). When the two meet Doc dismisses him out of hand, even slapping him with disdain. The look on Szell's face is enough to confirm the inherent arrogance of a man who once had control over the life and death of thousands. His reaction says volumes about the character that still inhabits his aged body.
The infamous dentist scene is another example of Szell's ruthless dedication to prove to himself and others that he matters in a world which has moved on without him. He is a fossil from another age but one with the ability to remind the present that his teeth are still sharp enough to maim and kill as Babe finds out to his discomfort.
Szell not only retains his violence and pride but more importantly his greed. This is so overpowering that he comes out of hiding to reclaim his wealth. Perhaps the most disturbing scene in the entire film is when he giggles like a school girl on opening his safety depsit box. This greed is so powerful that it takes him into the Jewish Diamond quarter in New York and the strongest section of the film. Even with the potential of being caught or worse, he cannot reign in his sold self belief that he is superior.
The climax is fitting as ultimatley Babe does not underestimate Szell. Furthermore he is principled, without greed(unlike his brother Doc), and ruthless in his determination to win. After all he does run marathons and this steel is amazingly portrayed in flashback when he is running for his life.

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